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Hell's Horizon (The City) by Darren Shan
Review by Harriet Klausner
Grand Central Publishing Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780446551731
Date: 05 January 2011 List Price $19.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The Cardinal rules The City like a deity as he insures the disappearances of sundry people who don't just vanish; they also evaporate from the mind like a shaken Etchosketch.

His Party Central personal guard force have all proven their loyalty to him before achieving these lofty positions. One of the Cardinals' personal guards Al "Algiers" Jeery is sent to a hotel owned by his boss to look at a murder scene. When he arrives at the room containing the corpse, he recognizes the victim as his new girlfriend Nic Hornyak. Whereas the stunned Al wants vengeance, the raging Cardinal demands the affront to his authority be eradicated before others have the same idea. Believing he can kill two birds, he assigns the angry Al to find the killer and clean up the problem.

Al begins his investigation by interrogating those at the hotel. His inquiries amongst the victim's friends and associates lead him to realize how little he new about Nic as her circle consists of nasty weirdoes and odious snakes. Not so long after he started his questioning mob style, blind Incan priests attack him though Al cannot fathom why they would want to silence him as the Cardinal will just send someone else. However, what amazes Al is when the mysterious killing machine Paucar Wami accosts him. Wami apparently assassinates without impunity as nobody dares go after him including Al who fears his boss The Cardinal. Al believes he is a walking dead man with no escape as his gut tells him he is next on the best-ever hit man’s dead list.

This reprint of the middle book of The City trilogy (see recently re-released Procession of the Dead and to be re-released next year City of Snakes) was written under the name of Darren O'Shaughnessy in 2000. This terrific urban fantasy contains critical, almost identical elements as Procession of the Dead especially the relationship between the boss Cardinal and his personal guard, Al, that mirrors the relationship between the Cardinal and Capac. Although Al is the lead protagonist just like Capac is in the first thriller, The City and its “twin” The Cardinal rule this strange investigative tale as they did in the previous entry.

Wami brings the fresh element in as a hit man who not only never fails, but seems to have everyone afraid of him. Al expects to die once the invincible seemingly supernatural Wami who never loses sight of the prey decides it is time. Fans and Al expect the high noon confrontation between them but on Wami's terms regardless of what Al does; even the Cardinal who fears nothing is anxious to avoid a battle with the legend.

Hell’s Horizon is an entertaining tale that is character driven by four intriguing people with one being dead, two seemingly para-normally powerful and one human caught in the gravitational pull of the others. Their deadly relationships aside, it is the enigmatic dark aura City that sets the tone of a strong grim urban fantasy; mindful of early Spiderman during the Kingpin era. Note that the darkness of the City targets adult readers and not Mr. Shan's younger fans of the Cirque Du Freak novels and movie.

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